In light of recent insights that 13 Reasons Why caused an increase in people searching for suicide methods on Google, which may have led to an uptick in suicide attempts, we decided to resurface an opinion published in April, 2017, about why the final scene in the series should never have been made.
Less than two weeks ago, Netflix released the highly anticipated teen drama 13 Reasons Why.
It begins with Clay Jensen receiving a package containing 13 audio tapes. When he presses play, he hears the voice of Hannah Baker – a close friend who recently died by suicide.
Each tape is for a different person in her life, all of whom are said to have contributed to her death.
Laura Brodnik, Tiffany Dunk and I argue about whether 13 Reasons Why is powerful or problematic, on the latest episode of The Binge. Post continues below.
In the final episode, Hannah’s death is portrayed in graphic detail. The blood, her curdling screams, and the method by which she died has replayed in my mind numerous times since I watched it.
In fact, it’s the first time I’ve found a television scene too graphic to watch in full.
I felt sick.
Headlines have dubbed the show “smart and compelling,” a “brilliant study of teenage life,” with Forbes claiming that it’s Netflix’s “best show in years”. The Quad says, “You must watch ’13 Reasons Why'” and The Fix argues “… there is something relatable in this show for everyone, no matter your age…”
The reviews that almost universally classify 13 Reasons Why – a television show that explicitly depicts suicide – as ‘essential viewing’, are at best misguided and naive, and at worst, dangerous and irresponsible.
It might very well be a fascinating and brilliantly crafted teen drama.
But it’s also a suicide manual.